This is David McCann arguing that the current malaise in Northern Irish politics has its roots in the fact that no less than 160,000 people stopped voting after 1998. From June 1998 to March 2011 electoral turnout dropped from 70% to 54.5%. Whilst the UUP and the SDLP lost a staggering 84,000 votes each, SF only picked up 35,000 and the DUP 52,000.
McCann’s thesis is that this disengagement is a prime cause of the subsequent drift of Stormont politics from the concerns of the broader NI population. Specifically…
…that drop in turnout is creating [a] silo system… and you’ve seen it in your audience tonight, people feel so disengaged with the process. Part of the probelm, from what I can see, is that people just think that Stormont just isn’t addressing their concerns. For example, 80% support integrated education, yet only 7% of kids go to integrated schools.
You can see an earlier piece on the subject over at Journal.ie.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty